I went on a “spiritual” trip to India in January for about 2 weeks. The beauty of these trips which include 4am morning calls, 8 hour car rides, 5 hour hikes up mountains with the sun on your forehead, and conspicuous spots in the middle of rice fields to take a piss, is that the entire time that I was on it, I did not, not for once, think about work or have time for my usual woe-is-me moments. Everything inspires you in some way. The blind guy around the shop corner who plays a pair of hand drums rather beautifully and begs for money. Or the little boys who run at you with bright smiles trying to convince you to buy the fresh lotus flowers to offer to the temples. Or even the funeral marches towards the holy Ganges ghats in Varanasi, where the family, friends, and neighbors of the deceased march in a procession beating drums and celebrating the life the dead once lived. In all of this there is poverty and struggle but there is also celebration and music and art and beauty and most of all there is hope.
I struggle to get back on my feet after the first minor hitch in any of my plans. I struggle to pick up my pieces for years afterwards after one breakup where I may or may not have even loved the man. Then I have these encounters with people who are hopeful even when one can clearly see that their life is at a place my ingrate self would consider way past rock bottom. It isnt right, or even healthy, I dont think, to feel better about myself by way of comparison to those that are less fortunate. I realize that I shouldnt have to have that, you know, the need to see someone or something worse than my life in order to feel more thankful. I realize I need to be thankful all the time, despite the little hitches and obstacles here and there.
That is the beauty of these so-called spiritual trips. I am taken out of my comfort zone and stripped of all the false sense of entitlement that most of us function on. I came back sun burnt, sleep deprived, and with a suitcase full of terribly dirty clothing, but these have always been necessary hiatuses. I think they make me a better person…….for at least 2 weeks post trip (LOL). I recommend these “spiritual” trips for everyone. Plan a vacation that is going to physically drain and exhaust you. Go to a place that is rather a contrast from your usual life and learn to see the beauty in things you consider rock-bottom. I know this hardly sounds like a vacation but you will always have next year for the king suite on a secluded beach bungalow off the coast of Bali. This will be worth it trust me.